Monday, December 14, 2009

Motor Vehicle Collisions & Weather Conditions

By: Scott Evans
Idaho's NewsChannel 7
Snow blamed for accidents all over Treasure Valley

BOISE -- As Saturday drew on and the snow fell, the roads were progressively getting worse.

Accidents across the valley finally began to slow down, only after 12 hours of being extremely busy.

"There was a rash of crashes for awhile,” said Corporal Edward Robertson with the Idaho State Police. “We were pretty busy."

As the snow began to fall, accidents across the Treasure Valley began to pile up.

"We prepare for these types of things,” said Cortney Dennis, a supervisor for Ada County Dispatch. “We're ready to handle these types of snowfalls, but certainly, over 120 accidents in the Treasure Valley today. I know ISP was really busy as well.”

Dennis said the majority of their accidents did not have any injuries.

"A lot of fender benders, a lot of slide-offs," Dennis said.

One car with kids inside slid off the Connector and onto the duck pond near the Flying Wye.

The car went right onto the ice.

Luckily it didn't break and they were able to get out safely.

"When the first few snowfalls hit, we do see a large increase in the number of accidents until everyone kind of adjusts their driving pattern and get more comfortable with the roadways," Dennis said.

It was a busy day for Idaho State Police as well.

From 7 a.m. Saturday until 7 p.m., Ada County alone responded to 123 accidents.

Robertson said the weather is not completely at fault.

“People habitually like to blame the weather, but it's not a weather problem,” Robertson said. “It's a driving problem. And if we could
just get folks to just slow down, be courteous to each other and understand that the roads are slick.”

Ten miles east of Boise on I-84, an ISP officer was investigating an accident when a truck hit his patrol car.

"At a time when we needed all of our troopers the most, we had a trooper taken out of the game because he's now a victim of a crash," Robertson said.

Ada County Dispatch says of their 123 accidents, 76 of them did not have any injuries. Six were hit-and-runs, 20 were slide-offs and 20 of them had injuries.

Drivers are advised to drive carefully and go at speeds that are appropriate for the conditions.

Idaho Code Section 49-654(1) (referred to as the "Basic Rule" Statute) sets forth:
No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. Consistent with the foregoing, every person shall drive at a safe and appropriate speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hillcrest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding highway, and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.

The fact is motor vehicle collisions on icy, snowy or wet roads are largely due to drivers ignoring the road conditions and driving in excess of speeds that are reasonable and prudent given the hazards then existing.

1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid...

1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid...

1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.
2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return.
3. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck...

1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

If you become stranded...

1. Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
2. To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.
3. If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
4. To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
5. Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
6. Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

Be aware of your conditions and slow down! The life you save may be your own.

CONTACT INFORMATION: If you or a family member have been injured or damaged due to the fault or responsibility of someone else, an industrial accident or by a dangerous or defective product, drug or toxic substance, contact Alan Morton for a no obligation, free consultation.

For additional information contact:

Alan L. Morton
1005 North Eighth Street
Post Office Box 420
Boise, ID 83701-0420
Telephone: 208.344.5555
Toll Free: 866.946.1669 [866.WIN.1.NOW]
Facsimile: 208.342.2509

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